About a month ago, I got a great deal on a new set of tires. Or so I thought.
It turned out I’d also have to pay an extra $100 for “alignment.” Being naturally inquisitive and generally distrustful, I asked a mechanic friend whether alignment meant junk fee in tire seller code.
“That charge was on the high end,” he said. “But new tires should be aligned or the car won’t drive as straight — and the wheels might wear out faster,” he said.
Okay, so I wasn’t completely played for a pigeon, this time.
I kept thinking about what he said while reviewing the educational sessions that were served up at the three major fall trade shows. To be sure, they are an impressive assortment and cover a lot of ground. From regulatory and legal updates to dissecting new policies and emerging strategies, they addressed many important issues.
But there was one noticeable oversight. Not one session addressed alignment. And frankly, there may not be a more important issue facing operators today.
I like the way Jack Welch describes alignment in “The Real-Life MBA.” He sees it as the mission, behaviors and consequences taking place at the workplace.
To Welch, mission relates to your organization’s destination: where you are going and why. But it also encompasses what achieving it looks like for all your employees.
Welch calls behaviors the way your employees need to think and act to make the mission more than just meaningless words.
As for consequences, they are what put “teeth” into the system. It means promoting or giving bonuses (or not promoting and not giving bonuses) based on how much team members embrace the mission and demonstrate the corresponding behaviors.
It’s not terribly difficult to spot senior living organizations that have figured out alignment. They are places where real progress is being made. Meetings are not dead-end zones. People are energized because their day jobs are not simply repeated drudgery. The work that needs to get done is getting done.
Nor is it too difficult to identify a senior living organization that has an alignment challenge. For at these places, the opposite is generally true.
So as you digest and implement some of the lessons you might have gained this fall, try not to overlook the importance of good alignment.
Or balding tires might be the least of your concerns.